Sarah Morgan

Healthcare Geek.
Professional Communicator.

Motrin Moms Give Me a Headache

I had sworn I wouldn’t post about this, but after all the conversations I’ve had, all I need to do is post what I keep saying. So that’s what I’ma do.

Short explanation: Motrin launched an ad this weekend talking about how moms who wear their kids in slings must get backaches. And they asked mommybloggers to check it out. The tone was sarcastic and patronizing and treated the practice of babywearing as a joke. (That’s what the complaints say, and I agree 100%.) Cue a deluge of mommyblogger posts and tweets. Motrin’s since pulled the ad and apologized.

Long explanation: Check or for “motrin” and you’ll see. The term “ad nauseam” comes to mind.

My thoughts:

I commented on Matt Herper’s Science Business post today, saying:

The ad is completely condescending, but the furor over this gives me pause two ways.

One, this isn’t the first time J&J has gotten the mommybloggers mad by seemingly trusting their agencies to the exclusion of testing their concepts. Remember the ill-conceived Camp Baby mommyblogger minicon, which excluded babies? So I think J&J needs to soft-sound a little more, as amazing as it is to need to say that about such a conservative company, and as great as it is that they’re embracing social media to the extent that they are.

Two, though, the mommyblogger community is well-known because they’re so easy to define, and it’s great that that recognition has helped give this community a voice, but they’re in danger of appearing overly emotional to the point of hysteria. Yes, this was monumentally stupid creative. But if you saw blogs and Twitter this weekend, you’d think Motrin was MADE out of babies. It’s a dumb ad. Call them out on it. End of story. The community is glorying in their power, and they deserve that power, but if they revel in it they won’t be taken seriously.

Traditional media has made the mommyblogger community, because it’s a supremely easy concept to communicate. Moms who write about being moms? Even if you don’t know how to turn on a computer, you get that. So the community is famous.

And the vast majority are thoughtful, articulate, intelligent individuals and the community reflects that. But when a few people buy into a mob mentality, they get drunk on their own power. And in this case, it’s worse because they’re standing on the shoulders of giants. I’m talking about the individuals who are fairly new to the evolutions of online community. They haven’t been immersed in technology and all of a sudden they have access to easy-to-use, powerful tools.

It’s like handing someone a megaphone. You have to consider the implications of what you’re saying. People are discussing business concepts without displaying any strategic thinking. I mean, come on. Every company should hire a “chief mom officer”? Really? What are you even talking about? You’re being misogynist yourself, if you think about it, because that implies that you need to create that title to get a mom into C-suite conversations. There are executives who are moms, thanks; very good ones who are very good at their jobs.

One of those thoughtful, articulate people had this to say about the over-reacting element in the community, which I think sums up the problem perfectly:

“They think that just because they’re moms, they wield power over everything and everyone and must be bowed down to. They don’t have the business savvy (most times) to think through things. They act on instinct and gut alone – “mama bear” is a favorite buzz phrase – and it’s just too much sometimes. There are things to get your panties in a twist about… but this isn’t giving me a wedgie.”

I’m not a mom. I can’t pretend to understand a mom’s perspective. But I understand how to think about things from a strategic business perspective. And the fact that when I asked if I could quote her, she wanted to remain anonymous – and I completely understood why – says to me that this has devolved from an interesting adult discussion to a high-school clique brawl.

The mommyblogger community should absolutely be taken seriously, but its members need to comport themselves accordingly to deserve that. And personally, right now I’m finding it difficult.


[…] Now that the dust has died down a bit, are we going to see some backlash against the mommyblogger community for overreacting? Sarah Morgan says she’s having a hard time taking them seriously. […]


I am so glad you wrote this. I am not a mom (except to my adorable dog), so I realize I’m not entitled to really speak out on this – HOWEVER – my twitter was rampant with tweets about this. I suddenly found myself feeling some unnecessary disdain toward the mommy blogging community, which, to be fair wasn’t the nicest reaction. But, their twitter assault was making it difficult for me to feel any other way. Good job Sarah. This post is PERFECT.


I completely agree with everything you said here… except that I no longer take the Mommybloggers seriously. They have shown this pack mentality before, and it leaves me wondering if there is a difference between being a Mommyblogger and a Stepfordblogger.

Mommybloggers don’t rule the world nor did they “make” the blogosphere… but when they act out like this it is giving a bad reputation to blogger’s everywhere.


Well thought out, well quoted, well written. And not just because I agree (!) Any group that abuses its power loses its power. I’d hope most mommies would save the real ‘momma bear’ reaction for things that threatened their health and their child, not their ego.
But I’m not the target demo (although the Motrin posters showing the two orange tablets — one marked HIGH, the other marked HEELS — *did* speak to me, as a Girl and as a creative… I started riffing on all the other words they could use: Moving + Day, etc.) Maybe the next round will feature TWITTER + STREAM.

Marc Rohde

This is a humors and well thought out post that I happen to agree with.

There seems to be an assumption that there were no moms involved in the creation of this ad and based on the size of J&J I just find that hard to believed.

As a father that has worn a sling I can saw one thing for sure…my back HURT LIKE HELL after a could hours walking around with my kid. Seems to me that there is some truth in advertising, which is rare, so my hats off to Mortin for creating a truthful ad.

Too bad they pulled the ad, I would have liked a couple more days of this humor on Twitter.

Karen Putz

This isn’t a case of someone crying “wolf.” You said it yourself: “The ad is completely condescending…” When an ad is condescending against a segment of the population, why shouldn’t there be an uproar? Bloggers who happen to be moms (and some dads out there too) found this ad offensive and raised their voice. The company listened and took action. Probably the end of the Motrin story, but a valuable lesson for other companies to take note of when they create their ad campaigns.

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